Upskilling (Reskilling) For Veterans

veterans training program

As one of the 200,000 servicemembers preparing to venture out into the civilian workforce, you may have come across the workforce development trend known as “upskilling” and “reskilling” while on the job hunt.

Because every industry, workplace, and position is being disrupted and threatened by shifting labor demographics and the rise of artificial intelligence, veterans come out of the U.S. Armed Forces just to find themselves learning a new skill in order to be relevant in today’s job market.

Wondering how you can position yourself for both public and private sector employment opportunities?We’ll answer your burning questions about reskilling and upskilling and show you how to be more attractive for civilian hiring managers. 

What is Upskilling and Reskilling?

Although these workplace buzzwords are used interchangeably and are also similar, they are actually different.  Keep in mind, no matter which process is used, the outcome is the same – a new skill is gained.

Let’s take a closer look at what they mean according to the Reskilling Toolkit by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM):

  • Upskilling: Upskilling is training individuals in the same occupation, but in a new way. This type of training is the process for those who need to learn new skills to improve their current performance without changing their position or career path. This is the most common trend used in today’s workforce.

Let’s say there is a file clerk who uses Microsoft Excel to review, search for, and manage files. Since the employer is implementing cloud-based software, the clerk would need to be trained on how to use this new technology.

  • Reskilling: Reskilling is training for individuals who have shown they have the aptitude for learning a new occupation. This type of training is the process of learning new skills with the goal of starting a different career path entering jobs or industries with labor shortages.

For example, a cashier whose job has become obsolete because of self-checkouts, will need to learn new skills to perform a different in-demand job within the store, such as stocking. Additionally, someone transitioning out of the military into a civilian role might reskill into a new industry.

Cross-Skilling Matters Also

veterans training program

The term cross-skilling also known as cross-training may even pop up from time to time. Here’s what cross-training means:

  • Cross-skilling is the process of developing new skills that apply across different functions. Cross-training happens when training is provided to help someone shift into a new role or adjust to major changes within their current job. For example, a user experience (UX) designer might learn software development fundamentals to improve cross-functional collaboration and productivity.

Upskilling is Not New to the Military

If you think about it, upskilling and reskilling has been taking place for a long time in the military. Every branch of the military takes its new recruits and upskills them into their military occupational specialty. After investing in a few years of on-the-job training, the military has a highly professional, skilled workforce and the recruits have careers and years of experience.

This is how the military trains its personnel. If you consider how many times servicemen and women change jobs and relocate within the military, you’ll see that they do this at least every 2 to 3 years.

Now, let’s apply this scenario to Army and Marine Corps infantry people coming into the civilian world, with outstanding military skills, leadership skills, and all the competencies that a service member brings. He or she will need to be upskilled and reskilled because these military skillsets are not easily transferable to most civilian occupations.

On the flip side, even though the rise of technology affects the civilian world, it also greatly impacts what the military will be like in the future.

Why Upskilling Matters?

veterans training program

One problem with the military-to-civilian transition is while you’re focusing on how to apply your world class military training to the civilian atmosphere, America is desperately preparing for the future of work due to work now being driven by the speed of technology and automation.

Studies suggest that 375 million workers – or 14% of the global workforce – will need to change career paths by the year 2030 due to automation, digitization, and artificial intelligence (AI) wreaking havoc on the jobs and tasks that are carried out today. For any veteran to be competitive and close the gap between jobs and the labor economy, he or she should consider upskilling.

But why is upskilling and reskilling important now? Below are three reasons why:

  • The impact of COVID-19: Many employees are telecommuting, working from home, and even working remotely as we continue to our daily lives in the age of social distancing.
  • Digital transformation: Traditional systems have gone digital. Less paper, less phone time, and the introduction of apps, systems, and software have taken over the workplace. Think Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
  • Automation: Robots are now performing low-skilled manual labor. People who were performing this type of work are having to reskill or upskill to find new jobs.

Upskilling matters because the best way veteran employees can secure their future is to increase their value to their employer by expanding their knowledge and skill set. When opportunities for promotion arise, their employer will look favorably upon their willingness to learn and take on new tasks.

For those who leave the company, upskilling will only add to their resume and make them more attractive to future employers. And for veterans, upskilling can be done without use of the GI Bill benefits, for free!

7 Places Veterans Can Get New Careers by Upskilling

We scoured the internet to find the below places where veterans can gain STEM skills and a new career by upskilling:

1. Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA)

MSSA, a cornerstone of the Department of Defense SkillBridge program, provides vets with 18 weeks of in-depth training in high-demand fields such as server and cloud administration, database and business intelligence administration, cloud application development, and cybersecurity administration — the basis of high-paying careers.

2. Veterans Curation Program

The Veterans Curation Program (VCP) was created for two purposes: (1) to provide veterans a bridging experience from military service into the public sector and (2) to process at-risk archaeological collections belonging to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This is a 5-month program that instructs vets in cataloging and photographing artifacts as well as cleaning, scanning and re-housing photographs and documents, all to federal standards, which directly translate to civilian organizations

3. Booz Allen Hamilton’s MilTech Workforce Initiative

Booz Allen Hamilton wants to help veterans smoothly transition into future-focused careers and so decided to offer hands-on training to separating veterans under the SkillBridge program. SkillBridge allows for active-duty service members to learn new skills during the last 6 months of their enlistment while still earning military pay and benefits.

Any veterans interested in artificial intelligence, cyber or cloud computing should head over to Booz Allen Hamilton to learn more.

4. Onward to Opportunity

Onward to Opportunity (O2O), a program of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families of Syracuse University provides no-cost training, certification and employment assistance for Transitioning Service Members, Veterans, Military Spouses and Members of the National Guard and Reservists. This program offers no-cost training and certifications in over 40 top paying career fields and direct connections to military friendly employers.

5. WholePoint Systems

WholePoint Systems training program is designated to give transitioning servicemembers hands-on experience in modern data center environments. The program will give students high-demand industry certificates as well as hands-on experience with data center operations in HVAC, Electrical, Plumbing, Networking, and Monitoring.

6. Salesforce Trailhead Military Program

Trailhead Military connects members to free training, certifications, and career opportunities within the Salesforce ecosystem. The program is available to active duty, reserve, guard, veterans, and military spouses. All you do is choose a career goal. Once you do that, you have access to a self-paced, no-obligation core of lessons in Salesforce classes, exams and certifications, good wherever Salesforce technology is used — which is almost everywhere.

7. Academy of Advanced Manufacturing

Upskill, stay relevant, and redeploy by developing new advanced manufacturing skills with the Academy of Advanced Manufacturing (AAM), a program provided in partnership by Manpower Group and Rockwell Automation. The 12-week paid training program includes hands-on labs and classroom-based training.

Upon successful completion, graduates of this program will be well-positioned to assume an Automation & Controls Technician (A&CT) role at a U.S. manufacturing employer with wage potential starting around $50K. Coursework will include training on network infrastructure, industrial controller products and applications, visualization and safety technology. Also included are a series of soft-skill sessions that focus on teamwork, professionalism and project management.

Closing the Skills Gap for Veterans

If your job in the military is the first job you’ve ever had, there will be certain things that you haven’t done that will need to be done alongside upskilling or reskilling. For example, you’ve never created a civilian resume. These new skills will need to be listed on your military to civilian resume.

Additionally, you may have never had the opportunity to build a professional network. It’s quite possible that as a military member, you’ve never created a LinkedIn profile and you’ve never interviewed with a civilian employer. With that being said, there’s a huge gap in knowledge.

Dr. Phillip Gold is President/CEO of Empire Resume and has vast experience writing resumes for both professionals and servicemembers transitioning from the military into civilian roles. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and was responsible for leading nuclear missile security. Phillip is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and holds a BA in Communications from The Ohio State University, an MS in Instructional Technology, an MBA in Finance, and a PhD in Finance.

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